From: Reuters
Published December 24, 2007 12:15 PM

Nigeria court seeks 3 arrests in Pfizer drug trial

KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) - A Nigerian court on Monday ordered the arrests of three of the defendants in a trial over a drug test conducted by Pfizer in 1996 which Nigerian authorities say killed 11 children and left others disabled.

The northern state of Kano is suing Pfizer for $2 billion in damages and pressing criminal charges over the testing of the antibiotic Trovan on children in Kano during a meningitis epidemic that killed 12,000 children in six months.

The federal government is suing for an additional $6.5 billion and also pressing criminal charges.

Pfizer denies accusations that Trovan harmed children and that the company did not obtain proper regulatory and parental approval. It says it was meningitis that killed the children or damaged their health, while Trovan saved lives.

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The High Court in Kano on Monday held a hearing in the state's criminal case against Pfizer.

Lawyers for Pfizer were present but Judge Shehu Atiku complained that individual defendants should have been there too and issued arrest warrants against three of them.

Pfizer is arguing in a separate process in a Lagos court that the defendants were not properly served criminal summons and therefore were not technically charged or obliged to appear in court.

The civil and criminal cases launched by the state and federal governments since May have developed into a tangle of unresolved petitions and side issues, dragging on from one adjournment to the next. No witness has been heard and no substantive issue tackled.

Atiku adjourned the Kano state criminal case to January 29 to hear a motion in which Pfizer challenges the court's jurisdiction.

(Reporting by Mike Oboh, writing by Estelle Shirbon, editing by Mary Gabriel)

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